Percentage rise is still an increase

MOST of us are aware of the current economic issues and how difficult times are as the country tries to get back on a steady footing.

How refreshing it was then to see that the Newbiggin Town Council (News Post Leader, January 19) has made the sensible decision of not making an increase to the precept in the coming year, despite the extra services forced upon them by Northumberland County Council.

Not so the town council in Cramlington.

Seemingly oblivious to the problems and issues that its residents are currently struggling with, they refused a proposed minimal eight per cent increase, instead choosing a 72 per cent increase as reported in the very same issue.

So a precept increase of 72 per cent over last year’s budget – that itself being an increase of 48 per cent on the previous year.

Within this budget includes an area for staff costs, and whilst the government has announced that public sector workers will be subject to a pay freeze, then only a one per cent increase, seemingly this does not apply to public sector workers in Cramlington Town Council, who have been ‘re-graded’ so the increase in costs to existing staffing on this budget will be 66.8 per cent alone.

Though the Liberal Democrats will argue that in real terms it averages only pennies a week, or “two cigarettes or half a pint of beer a week” as one stated, the percentage increase still remains.

I find it unbelievable that these people are blind to the fact, or just choose to ignore, that we are in hard times, and blaze away regardless.

MARK SWINBURN

Cramlington